Visiting Knox County – Things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and surrounds

Knox County, Ohio has much to entertain visitors. From Columbus to Mt. Vernon is only 1 hour and Cleveland is only a little over 90 minutes away! Don’t let the drive stop you, because Knox County is home to a glam hotel, a hip liberal arts college, and numerous hiking and biking opportunities. Here are just a few things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and its surroundings.

Things to do in Mount Vernon, Ohio

Centered around a roundabout (or maybe more of a square-about), Mt. Vernon Square hosts a weekly farmer’s market on Saturday mornings in summer. Beyond that time, you’ll find antique shops, restaurants, and an excellent coffee shop. The Happy Bean has a warm, industrial feel and some of your favorite coffees. I love that they even had a list of kids’ offerings.

Happy Bean Mt Vernon Coffee Shop

Ariel Foundation Park

After your caffeine jolt, head to the new Ariel-Foundation Park. Not far from downtown, and on the site of the former Pittsburgh Plate Glass manufacturing plant site, sits the 250-acre park. The landscaping is not something you’re used to, as pieces of metal were refurbished to make sculptures, and crushed glass serves as a mulch-like substitute.

The Rastin Observation Tower is not for those afraid of heights! It’s 224 steps just to the observation tower! The view is worth the shaky knees, I promise.

If you’re visiting on a summer weekend, check out The Ariel-Foundation Park Facebook page for a list of upcoming events.

Things to do in Mount Vernon, Ohio - Climb the Rastin Tower at Ariel-Foundation Park - Knox County, Ohio

Things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio - Knox County - Climb the Rastin Tower in Ariel-Foundation Park

The Dog Fountain at South Main Plaza

Friends of Fido will enjoy visiting the Dog Fountain at South Main Plaza. Each whimsical statue is a different breed “feeding” the fountain. Besides one gray cat and a shetland pony, this fountain has “gone to the dogs.”

The fountain area has plenty of benches and a few picnic tables, so bring your lunch or dinner. Make sure you take time to walk around the fountain and enjoy its small details.

Woodward Opera House

The Woodward Opera House was named after the businessman responsible for bringing it to life, Dr. Ebenezer Woodward, Completed in 1851, the Opera House was known for known for vaudeville and minstrel shows, as well as other artistic arts. Unfortunately, with the growing popularity of motion pictures, the Woodward closed its doors in 1921. Efforts to restore the theatre began in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 2019 that the theatre was fully restored and ready for a new era.

The Woodward Opera House now hosts weddings, special events, and concerts & plays. The venue is known for its horseshoe seating interior, and when all of the chairs are in place it can hold nearly 500 people. If you’re visiting Mt. Vernon, check the Woodward schedule for shows that will coincide with your visit!

Memorial Park

Memorial Park is the place for peewee baseball games and picnics, but it also offers a newly remodeled playground that was a lot of fun for our kids!

The park is located at 255 Mount Vernon Ave. Mount Vernon, OH 43050.

Knox County things to do

Kenyon College and Brown Family Environmental Center

Further to the east towards Gambier, Ohio is the Brown Family Environmental Center. The center, run by Kenyon College, is full of educational opportunities for young and old as it includes a Butterfly garden, a 7-acre prairie, and 11 miles of hiking trails.

The trails are open every day during daylight hours.

Now, you’re just south of Kenyon College, so pop in and check out the historic campus. If the college was good enough for U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes and actor Paul Newman, it’s good enough for us lowly folk. Lol.

Needing more caffeine? Check out the trendy Wiggin Street Coffee.

Honey Run Falls

Continuing east (Take 229 to SR 62 E) towards the small (and I mean, small) town of Millwood. Lying southeast of Millwood is a gem in the woods- Honey Run Falls (click for full post). The only waterfall of its kind in Knox County, Honey Runs Falls is managed by the Knox County Park District The park contains a hiking trail and access to the falls from the Kokosing River.

The rocks can be slippery, so make sure the kiddos have proper footwear. Our tennis shoes worked just fine, but swim-type shoes would be best. The water is cold, but in the heat of summer, this is a great place to cool off.

Honey Run Falls - Howard Ohio - things to do in Mount Vernon Ohio & Knox County Ohio

(Like waterfalls?? – here are 15 more Ohio waterfalls to cure your wanderlust).

Kokosing Gap Trail – Gambier

A bicyclist or a train enthusiast? Plan a stop at the Kokosing Gap Trail in Gambier. Thirty miles of old railroad tracks have been converted to a bike/running trail that runs from Mt. Vernon to Danville.

The cool thing about this stop in Gambier is the restored steam engine and caboose. The 0-6-0 locomotive was built in 1940 and the Chesapeake and Ohio Caboose was built in 1924 and in use until 1979. You can even climb aboard and take a peak in the window! Families of all ages will enjoy learning history while getting some exercise.

Interested in sleeping on a train? How about this restored Caboose in Hocking Hills or a train hotel in Indianapolis?

Things to do near Gambier, Ohio - Knox County, Ohio - restored train

Schnormeier Gardens

If you’re visiting during the summer months, make reservations to visit Schnormeier Gardens. The gardens are only open Thursday- Sunday during June. These private gardens are a delightful way to spend an afternoon! There are numerous sculptures, a wooded trail, and plenty of places to relax in the shade. For more information read my post on visiting Schnormeier Gardens.

things to do in Mt Vernon Ohio- Schnormeier Gardens near Gambier

The Bridge of Dreams

The Bridge of Dreams is a 370-foot former railroad bridge that spans across the Mohican River Valley. This bridge is located right on the county line with Holmes County and for many signifies that Gateway to Amish Country. Many Amish use the bike trail through the bridge to avoid traffic on US 62.

There is parking near the bridge. The bridge is part of a 4.5 mile multiuse trail, so bring your walking shoes and enjoy this gorgeous area.

Bridge of Dreams - things to do in Knox County Ohio

Downtown Mount Vernon Hotel

A few years ago, I spent one night at the Mount Vernon Grand Hotel and it was surprisingly luxurious for small-town Ohio. Tiled showers, pillowtop beds, and in-room Keurig coffeemakers make you feel like you’re in a big city boutique. Mr. YT gave me a night away for Mother’s Day (good job!!), so I was here sans kids, but I did see a baby and some tweens in the breakfast room. That said, my room only had a shower, so if you’re taking a baby or toddler you may want to call ahead and confirm you’ll have a tub. If you’re not taking the kids, take the hubby and request a king bed! 😉

Visiting Knox County, Ohio. The Mount Vernon Grand Hotel is a stately building.

My favorite Mt. Vernon, Ohio Restaurant

Need somewhere for dinner? Make it a date at The Alcove Restaurant. The Alcove is a Mt. Vernon tradition – they’ve been in business for over 100 years! This is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, or just being alive! The Alcove has been recently updated and the swanky interior feels worlds away from small-town Ohio.

Have you been to Knox County or Mount Vernon, Ohio? Let me know your favorite attraction in the comments!

*This is not a sponsored post but may contain affiliate links*


Things to do in Knox County, Ohio & Mt. Vernon, Ohio -   Things to do in Ohio. Ohio with kids.
Things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio -  Knox County, Ohio has plenty to explore! Here's my guide to visiting Knox County and Mount Vernon, Ohio.
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2 thoughts on “Visiting Knox County – Things to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and surrounds”

  1. Pingback: 3 FREE places to take your family within one hour of Amish Country, Ohio

  2. Pingback: 3 FREE places to take your family within one hour of Amish Country, Ohio - yodertoterblog

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